Mother Jones foundation dinner in Illinois

Mother Jones grave at the Union Miners Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois.

Mother Jones grave at the Union Miners Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois.

The Mother Jones Foundation will hold its 30th Annual Mother Jones Dinner on Sunday October 11th, 2015 at Erin’s Pavilion, Southwind Park, 4965 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois.
This year it is dedicated to Joe Hill on the 100th Anniversary of his execution.
The featured speaker will be MaryBe McMillan, who is Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. MaryBe is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUDE) Local 465 in Durham, North Carolina.
Bucky Halker, singer, songwriter and musician will provide the entertainment for the evening, following his tour dates with the “Joe Hill Road Show”.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon at 12 noon there will be a memorial ceremony at the Mother Jones Monument in the Union Miners Cemetery.
The Mother Jones Museum will be open from 1-3pm to receive the public at 215 East Main Street, Mt Olive. For more info visit
For details of Dinner tickets etc contact the Mother Jones Foundation, P.O.Box 20412, Springfield, Illinois 62708-0412 or phone Terry Reed at 217-789-6495  

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2015……”Unforgettable”!

The 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer school was again a highly successful and uplifting event. Four days and nights of talks, debates, films, singing, poetry and music concluded at the Maldron Hotel on the Saturday night 1st August with a rousing and spectacular musical tribute to labour leader Joe Hill, who was executed one hundred years ago.
Earlier actress Kaiulani Lee had brought Mother Jones to the streets of her childhood when she performed her play Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones at the Firkin Crane before an appreciative and amazed audience. It was a triumph for Kaiulani, a tribute to the professionalism of everyone at the Firkin Crane and the fulfilment of a long cherished dream of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to have Ms Lee come to Cork to perform. We acknowledge the support of Ms Becky Bartovics in bringing this about. We thank Ms Lee on an amazing performance and for her insightful contributions to several other elements of the festival.
According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

“We were delighted with the 2015 festival, the lectures and debates were outstanding with capacity attendances, morning, afternoon and evening. It was a real privilege to present Fr Peter McVerry with the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones award, no one deserves it more for his brave determination to question the causes of homelessness and do something about it”
It was memorable to hear Chris Mullin give a very personal, frank and objective account of his role in the campaign to free the Birmingham Six and later describe in amusing detail his affection for the late Tony Benn as well as his forthright views on the election of a new British Labour Party leader. Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association contributed so much to the ground breaking Mother Jones lecture and later their description of the injustice of what took place at Orgreave”

Historians and writers such as Luke Dineen, Ann Matthews, Leo Keohane, Scott Millar, Theo Dorgan and John Jefferies presented papers on the political and historical flux and lesser known personalities of the first decades of the 1900s, which had 1916 Rising at its core. The extraordinary life of Cork woman Ethel Boole was critically examined by author Alannah Hopkin while Margaret O’Keeffe presented a very wise and thoughtful paper on a current topic of water and democracy.
Music, singing, poetry, a garden party and everything in between was as usual an integral element of the event and under the direction of William Hammond and Richard T Cooke, the very best of Cork talent was well represented throughout. Johnny Nyhan organised the emotional tribute to Joe Hill. Films were also central to the festival and Frameworks Films ensured a professional presentation.The staff and management of the Maldron Hotel kept the show working at all times in spite of the crowds. The local Shandon community provided magnificent logistics support, a colourful backdrop and a wonderful historic setting to the 2015 Festival which again showed to all what an organised community in the very heart of Cork City can achieve.
Jim Nolan continued
“So many people contributed to the success of the festival, especially those in the trade union movement across Ireland, north and south. This support combined with that of the City Council, the local community, the media and the huge international support of the Mother Jones groupsand individuals in Britain and America, the festival provides a fitting and appropriate celebration of a famous and uniquely Cork rebel…….Mary Harris……known to the world as Mother Jones.  Long may it continue”

The dates for the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will be announced shortly, all will be welcome to come along and experience the unique atmosphere which it generates.


Photos from the 4th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Lord Mayor Cllr. Chris O'Leary with Chris Mullin

Cork’s Lord Mayor, Cllr. Chris O’Leary with author and former MP Chris Mullin


Piper Norman O’Rourke prepares to “pipe in” the Lord Mayor


Lord Mayor Chris O'Leary at launch

Lord Mayor Cllr. Chris O’Leary launches the festival

We have many more photos from the festival which can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Mother Jones Festival 2015

More photos will follow soon

Fr. Peter McVerry receives Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2015


Fr. McVerry receives the award from Jim Nolan and Ailbhe O'Mahony of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

Fr. McVerry receives the award from Jim Nolan and Ailbhe O’Mahony of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce that Fr Peter McVerry is the recipient of the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.

Fr Peter McVerry  was presented with the award earlier today (Thursday)  following his thought-provoking address on the topic …..”Homelessness – the failure of social policy”.

Fr Peter McVerry has spent virtually all his adult life providing for the homeless and providing drug treatment and drug prevention services to thousands of people who fall through the cracks in society. He opened his first hostel as far back as 1979 and founded the Peter McVerry Trust in 1983 which plays a huge role today in providing services for many homeless people.

According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

“Fr Peter McVerry was the unanimous choice of the entire Cork Mother Jones Committee to receive the Spirit of Mother Jones Award in 2015. He receives it in recognition of his unstinting efforts to provide a voice for those without a voice or power in society and for the way he openly challenges the political establishment to find a permanent political solution to this growing problem”

“He receives it due to his fearlessness in pursuit of a political solution and for how he does not accept the cosy consensus which tries to keep the homeless issue out of sight…for his ability to raise the inconvenient truth that Irish society can end this problem by making a political decision to do so upsets a lot of people in high places……….and for his refusal to shut up and go away.”

“The Peter McVerry Trust under the inspiration and dedication of Fr Peter has worked in the very front lines of finding solutions for homelessness for over three decades and we believe that he is a very worthy recipient of the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2015. We are satisfied that Mother Jones if she was alive today would have been very proud of Fr Peter for his ability to highlight the social injustice of homelessness and would support his efforts to put forward solutions. It is a great honour for our committee that he has agreed to accept the award for 2015 as a small token of our appreciation for his efforts.”

Concluded Mr Nolan.

Some estimates put the number of homeless in Ireland at around 5000 at present and Fr McVerry has warned of a tsunami of homelessness in Ireland if political action is not taken quickly.

Previous recipients of the Spirit of Mother Jones award were Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group in 2013 and Gareth Peirce, Solicitor in 2014.


Festival Time approaches!

2015 Festival Progamme - click image to view full size or download

2015 Festival Progamme – click on link in text or via the main menu.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to introduce the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school which begins on Wednesday 29th July and concludes on Saturday night, 1st August.


We feel very honoured to celebrate the memory of Mary Harris, known as Mother Jones, in the streets of her birthplace and we know that the speakers, musicians, poets, film makers, artists, singers, actors and the visitors will provide a festival and summer school that is interesting, relevant and challenging. The wonderful community of Shandon in Cork City will again provide a historic and colourful backdrop for the events. We also know that many others across the USA, the UK, Greece and elsewhere will be attending in spirit.


The full programme of almost 30 events over 4 days is available to download by clicking on this link: Spirit of Mother Jones programme 2015

The topics and subjects are varied and diverse, yet we are sure Mother Jones would have approved of the debates they will encourage among those attending. We will remember forgotten Cork heroes such as John Dowling and Lily Boole, and others such as Tony Benn, Joe Hill and Rachel Carson. We will hear of injustices perpetrated on the miners at Orgreave or on the Birmingham Six. We will wonder at the bravery of Irish Citizen Army and the labour struggles of the early 20th Century. We will hear of homelessness in our Republic in 2015 and the possible loss of our most precious natural resource.


We will listen to the very best of Cork and international music and song from Two Time Polka, Jimmy Crowley, Johnny Nyhan, Richard T. Cooke, William Hammond, the Cork Singers Club,  the Cork Rokk Choir and many, many more.


And we will experience Mother Jones herself when the superb Kaiulani Lee takes the stage to perform “Can’t Scare Me…the Story of Mother Jones”. 


Virtually all the events are free and open to everyone, (just be early!). For that we have to thank our sponsors, the Shandon community, all those participating and contributing on a voluntary basis and the ongoing work of the members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to celebrate an inspirational woman. Come along!


Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!      



Water – a Human Right


Dr. Margaret O'Keeffe

Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe

Under the subtitle “Renewing Our Faith in (Strong) Democracy – Lessons from the Water Protests!” Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe will speak on this very topical issue at the Maldron Hotel, on Friday, 31st July at 2pm.

Dr. O’Keeffe, who lectures in Community Development at the Department of Social Studies, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), says the lecture has its genesis in her thoughts, observations and peaceful activism over the last two years or so in relation to some of the critical issues regarding water privatisation in Ireland.

Drawing on Benjamin Barber’s conceptualisation of Strong Democracy (1998), I wish to link the discussion to wider debates in relation to various interrelated democratic struggles at local, national and global levels, including but not limited to issues of growing global inequality, privatisation, climate change and the proposed Trans-Atlantic TTIP trade deal”, states Margaret.

“I argue that the water protest struggle is linked to wider emancipatory struggles which use the democratic process to challenge the hegemony of corporate power in an increasingly unequal global economy.  I suggest that the water protest movement is a microcosm of wider democratic struggles across Europe and the world”.

“Failure to recognise these interlinkages and their adverse implications for a fairer society for all means that we inadvertently fail to see what is happening to our world, and the likely degraded and diminished world, in terms of hope and opportunity, that our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born, will face now and into the future.”, she concluded.



Mother Jones flies high at Durham Miners Gala

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

The annual Durham Gala, organised by the Durham Miners’ Association was held at the Racecourse on Saturday 11th July 2015. The Big Meeting took place following the huge colourful parade of banners and bands through the city from early morning.

The new Daughters of Mother Jones Banner was carried proudly for the first time in the parade led by Betty Cook and Anne Scargill. Media estimates put the overall crowd at somewhere around a hundred and fifty thousand people. It was a triumph for the organisational abilities of Durham Miners’ Association under its General Secretary Dave Hopper, who reviewed the parade from the balcony of the County Hotel on Old Elvet.
County Hotel

Group on balcony of County Hotel including Dave Hopper review parade

Dave Hopper in welcoming all to the Gala in a rousing speech commented “We have endured five years of austerity during which the richest people in Britain have doubled their wealth while the poorest have been driven to the brink of destitution.”  Other speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP and Owen Jones, author and journalist and trade union leaders who also addressed a packed Racecourse. All the current Labour Party leadership contenders attended the Gala.
One of the many bands that participated

One of the many bands that participated

Four new banners from Sacriston, Tanfield Lea, Usworth and the Durham Miners’ Area were blessed at Durham Cathedral later in the afternoon. They were accompanied by bands of the Durham Miners’ Association, Hade Edge, Boarshurst and Ellinton Colliery.  The Bishop of Durham,the Right Reverend Paul Butler in his sermon, referred to how the Durham Gala “demonstrates an underlying passion for justice”.
The Gala was accompanied by many fringe meetings, dozens of stalls, and even a Gala Funfair for the thousands of children present. On a sunny Saturday afternoon,after it was all over, the bands and their communities with their banners marched from the field, the 131st Durham Gala was a wonderful tribute to the resilience of the local mining communities and the Durham Miners’ Association and an inspiration to all who attended from around the world. See the Durham Miners facebook page for up to date details and discover how one can support the festival to ensure its survival.
Dave Hopper General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association will deliver the 2015 Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 29th July at 7.15. He will be accompanied also by actress Kaiulani Lee. 
Dave will introduce the classic Yvette Vanson film The Battle for Orgreave at the Maldron Hotel at 11am on Thursday 30th July. Dave was present on the 18th June 1984 and will discuss the ongoing fight for justice for the miners and the demands for a full investigation into the events of that day.
Chairman of the Durham Miners Association Alan Cummings will also attend the festival.